Responsible driving should be as much a holiday tradition as gift shopping, according to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS).
While Christmastime is primarily a time to spend with family and friends, going to holiday parties and enjoying the food and drinks that accompany all holiday get-togethers, the GOHS said there’s a big responsibility that comes along with that.
"The mobilization period for Operation Zero Tolerance kicked off last Friday, Dec. 14, in Savannah. This holiday period, from that kickoff date through Jan. 1, law enforcement will be out in high numbers to ensure the safety of all Georgia citizens," GOHS Deputy Director Spencer Moore said. "We know that from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1 of last year 162 people lost their lives in Georgia, which is a lot."
Those 162 people who were killed last December made up 10 percent of the total car accident-related deaths in the state, in just one month. Nationwide, there were 1,076 car-accident related deaths in December and another 11,784 people were injured, many of them critically. To help make the highways a safer place, Georgia instituted its Operation Zero Tolerance (OZT) to help raise awareness to the consequences of drunk driving.
"In order to have a safe and festive holiday season, we recommend all motorists make sure they are responsible," Moore said. "If they are planning on attending a party or going somewhere where they might indulge in alcohol, we encourage them to designate a driver or find an alternate way to get home. And in all cases, we encourage everyone in a vehicle – drivers and their passengers – to use their safety belts because that’s the single most effective way to prevent injury and death in a car accident."
Most motorists don’t realize the risk of a driver dying in a crash at the legal limit, .08 Blood Alcohol Content, is at least 11 times that of drivers without alcohol in their system, the GOHS site said.
Moore said the GOHS is especially grateful to all the law enforcement agencies – city police departments, county sheriff departments and the state patrol – who have come together and committed themselves to helping with OZT.
"We give our hats off to the law enforcement agencies throughout Georgia who sacrifice their holiday with their families to help ensure the safety of all residents," Moore said.